A Tiding of Magpies and an Interloper Farewell Haiku Bob

by Peter Flynn

It is early Saturday night not long after sunset. I saunter down Gertrude Street listening to Port versus Hawthorn. Bizarrely, I find myself barracking furiously for Port Adelaide. It’s funny who you can end up supporting in neutral sporting contests. Each Port pack mark in front of goal evokes a well-concealed short sharp fist pump accompanied by an internal yell of “YEEERRSSSS”.

Siren sounds. Port gets home in an old-fashioned willing stoush.

Reg Hickey’s grandson does it again. The cunning Primus plan of kick it long to Jay et al pays off in spades. For the elite, training drills involving the taking of kick-to-kick hangers may not be dead, buried and cremated just yet. Given the shenanigans at three-quarter time, neither is the stink and its galvanising influence on a home team kicking with the breeze.

What a weird 30 minutes jumping on the Alberton bandwagon? Strange days indeed. Most peculiar mama (thanks John Lennon).

I’m making my way to the Carringbush Pub in Langridge Street where a tiding of Magpies is gathering to farewell Floreat Pica Society stalwart and prolific contributor to the Society’s body of literature, Haiku Bob. On Sunday, he leaves with his family on a one-way ticket for Stockholm to start a new life. I reckon he wants to get as far away from the psychobabble of Mick Madhouse as possible.

Haiku Bob’s day at the footy is a beauty. Lunch, red wine and good company seated at Table 97 (out of 103) in the MCC Dining Room provides the perfect entrée to the main course. Collingwood massacre an insipid arch-enemy. This Collingwood team is a live chance for the flag. Haiku Bob tries to make sense of the various conflicting Magpie flag omens swirling around inside his head.

After a couple in the front bar, self-appointed ‘dictator’ of the Floreat Pica Society, Steve Fahey, welcomes us to the (Haiku) Bob Rose Room for a meal, a couple of refreshers and an opportunity to revisit and digest some of Haiku Bob’s finest haikus.

I promise myself not to mention Billy Ryan just in case I get whacked over the cranium with an umbrella. Such worries however are completely unfounded. The members of Floreat Pica are a great and eclectic bunch of Collingwood diehards who JWTWAF (Just Want To Win A Flag). This acronym could easily contain a ‘double F’. Given Rohan Connolly’s strange article in The Age during the week, I’m really surprised he isn’t here regaling about Ian McOrist or Con Britt.

Every so often, I sneak out to the front bar to check on Geelong’s brand of Jogo Benito. I catch Selwood delivering a sweeping look-away Farmer-like handpass to Usain Ablett who bolts away from the centre. Other snippets of action involve Geelong executing cleanly by both hand and by foot. It is readily apparent that Stevie J. is running the show.

Steve F. introduces the formal part of proceedings. Following some interesting remarks about hate, footy hate and Carlton, he pays homage to Haiku Bob’s prolific, brilliant and unique contributions to Floreat Pica. Steve’s remarks are heartfelt and humorous.

Haiku Bob receives life membership (the first to be bestowed) of the Floreat Pica Society and is awarded a Michael Horsburgh Medal. I gather this is indeed a great honour. I seriously doubt whether Sweden’s King Carl Gustav awards medals of such gravitas and honour.

Haiku Bob’s “I’m proud of the fact that…” responsorial speech is simply brilliant. It’s Rudd-urine-extraction at its finest. Delivered with a cheeky countenance, perfectly pursed lips (never trust a bloke who naturally does this), longish pauses and without the former autocratic PM’s waterworks, Haiku Bob lists his achievements in bringing haiku to the Collingwood (and footy) universe. It’s a considerable list. Haiku Bob then proceeds to offer some of his best (pie)ku. His chosen offerings are mostly dark, desolate and involve September air full of chills.

Haiku Bob also informs us that he is placing his hai(cue) in the rack. The night ends with a stirring rendition of Good Old Collingwood Forever.

Gawd blimey!

On behalf of all Almanackers, thanks Haiku Bob for conveying your thoughts and impressions of football, particularly of Collingwood, in haiku form. Go well in Sweden and see you back here in September for the Grand Final.

Comments

  1. Mixed emotions. One can only wish him the very best. His dry wit and pathos are remarkable.

    Well almost the very best. Perhaps the second best in 2010.

    Will his move be the X factor for the Pies on Saturday night and beyond?

    Phantom

  2. PF – great to read a tribute to the legendary HB. I say legendary with true meaning because taking a beautiful and sensitive art like Haiku to the Collingwood rabble (and succeeding) is the equivalent of getting the Hell’s Angels to appreciate hybrid cars.

    Well done HB – good travels. See you in the Spring?

  3. Andrew Fithall says:

    PF. Fine work. You neglect to mention that you may or may not have been seen (heard) to actually join in the rendition of Good Old Collingwood Forever.

    Thanks HB for bring Haiku to the football world.

    And Dips (#2), that is a very fine line you tread. Rabble? These days, as a result of the excellent and broadening work of The Floreat Pica Society, Collingwood supporters are more likely to be Rabelaisian than rabble-like.

  4. The “Society” must have a lot of members Andrew.

  5. AF #3 – I have to admit that I have a liking for all the old footy club songs, even the Magpie anthem. Just hate everything from the Adelaide Crows onward. The Gold Coast song sounds like a rolled gold embarrassment.

  6. Andrew Fithall says:

    Flynny,

    You acknowldge John Lennon for Most peculiar mama, but miss your opportunity to reference The Alan Parsons Project when you talk about the “psychobabble” of Mick Madhouse.

    Phantom (#4), the Society’s membership may not be large in number, just very influential.

  7. Dave Nadel says:

    As a Magpie supporter who isn’t a member of Floreat Pica (I’m one of Dips’ rabble) I wish Haiku Bob all the best in his new country. He will be missed.

    But, Bob – I know we are keeping a lid on it but if the impossible happens on Semptember 25 – Could you bear not to be in the country?

  8. John Butler says:

    The FP’s must be influential. They got Carlton to lay down for this august occasion. :(

    All the very best for the great journey north HB.

  9. Andrew,

    I think Alan Parsons engineered “The Dark Side of the Moon”

    ‘Everything under the sun is in tune……but the sun is eclipsed by the moon’ (Lunatics rule ok.)

    Does this society seek new members. I know a person in Melb who may be interested (seriously), if he is not already a member. Professional man about town.

    I caught up with him a few weeks ago at a footy reunion in Launceston. Inevitably his love for all matters magpie came up.

    He related a story about his son who at the age of 4 went up to him, seriously looked him in the eye and asked ‘dad how come I barrack for Collingwood’ Tim’s reply was ‘because you didn’t have any choice’

    I love that story.

    Do you have a secret hand shake?

  10. David Downer says:

    Sensational Flynny.

    …and er, time I finally googled “Haiku” to decrypt what it’s actually all about.

    DD

  11. Andrew Fithall says:

    Phantom (#9) Sorry if I have mis-represented myself. I am an outsider of the Society. Just an admirer of their work (but not one of the rabble Dave #7.)Steve Fahey is the man-in-charge.

    If what you say about Alan Parsons and Dark Side of the Moon is correct (and I have no reason to doubt), then that is extraordinary as we all know HB’s love of all things lunar in his footy Haiku.

    I enjoyed the story about your friend’s son.

  12. Thanks Andrew.

    I am shocked that users of a forum of the bona fides of the Knackery would make misleading statements on the blog.

  13. Dave Latham says:

    Phantom #9, I’m astounded you think offering your kids no choice in their football allegiance is strange.

    I don’t want some blow in or accidental type poisoning my daughters’ brains with crazy ideas about football allegiances. They can choose any team, as long as its black (and white).

    Maybe that’s why our fan base is so enormous. Not infected by sloppy liberal ideas about footy allegaince.

  14. Good to see you’re up and about Dave. I have missed you recently.

    And the best of British luck for you and yours on Saturday night.

    May you all get to give a stirring rendition of “Goodbye Dolly Gray” immediately post jaust.

  15. Steve Fahey says:

    Great work Flynny, a terrific tribute to HB

    It was great to have you there on Sat night. I’ve never met a match for my lifetime best mate Floreat Pican Paul (Stork O’Connell) for knowledge of statistics and history across a variety of sports. He was the kid at school who knew pi to one hundred decimal places. I think you might have him covered, and suspect that you might have gone to at least two hundred. I have let him know your reply re Walter Hammond posted on my match report. Thanks especially for writing that my remarks were humorous. I’ve printed that, and am going down to get it framed before Holly comes home from school, so that next time she responds to my dad humour with “You’re not funny Dad”, I can say ” Yes, I am, it’s official, it’s on the internet, look at this !”

    I love the story about kids not getting choice. My younger brother married a Richmond supporter, from a keen family, but not fanatical herself, she rarely attends games. He told her that he was happy for some of their kids (they have 3 boys) to barrack for Richmond, but he would be taking them to watch Collingwood. They all wear Pies jumpers and go every week.

    FPS does take new members. We have historically kept it to no more than 50 (are currently at 49 !!) because :

    (1) we do it all by email and some email systems (including hotmail which I use) struggle sending messages to more than 50 recipients.

    (2) keeping it to email has given us more control over content than the vast expanses of the net. We have a range of women and children (the latter all relatives of mine) on our list and really value both that diversity and that we don’t get sexist, racist, homophobic etc. stuff on there. I have had to gently remind people a couple of times, and it’s my least favourite part of my FPS time.

    (3)It keeps our Horsburgh Medal dinner manageable.

    The flip side of using email is of course that you get a lot of emails, which annoys some on our list already

    We put our stuff on the Almanac site both because it’s great to contribute to such a sports-loving community and to assist us to manage our numbers.

    Having said all that, I absolutely welcome any Pies supporters from the Alamanac community and their friends. Daff has my email address and you probably just got it in your inbox if you have previously listed a comment.

    We are going to ask the FPS punters their thoughts about going web-based next season, not sure what they will decide on that one.

  16. Dave Latham says:

    May the best team win Phantom.

    p.s. we’re the best team.

  17. haiku bob says:

    Loved the piece Flynny.
    It was a great night – fantastic you could come and mix with some of the nuff nuffs. You seemed to fit in well…
    And yes, the cue is in the rack (for now).

    Thanks to all for your kind words.

    HB.

  18. Stephen Cooke says:

    Flynny,
    Hope the races are treating you well. Just wondering, I’ve been reading info about the disharmony and player splits in the late 90s when Colbert was made captain. What was the problem at the time? I know you’re the man to ask.
    Cheers,
    Cookie

  19. Peter Flynn says:

    G’day Cookie,

    They will be treating me really well if this Cups Double gets up.

    My memory is that ‘young’ Colbert was selected captain ahead of a few more experienced and credentialed players who thought they should have been skipper. Hence some disharmony.

    The knee injury didn’t help.

    Is that your memory?

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